tv Politics Nation MSNBC April 12, 2012 6:00pm-7:00pm EDT
"politicsnation" with al sharpton starts right now. >> welcome to "politicsnation," i'm al sharpton, tonight's lead, breaking news in the trayvon martin case, newly released documents reveal the key parts of the prosecution's case against george zimmerman. we got the documents right after he appeared in the court for the first time. he went to face charges of second-degree murder, and for the first time since his fateful 911 call, we heard him speak. >> mr. zimmerman, yes, sir. >> appears here for your first appearance that the time for a charge of murder in the second degree, and you are respected by mr. o'mara is that true? >> yes. >> he will be arraigned on may 29th.
the release of the documents are a big deal shedding new light on how this case will be prosecuted. prosecutor angela corey writes "trayvon martin was on his way back to the townhouse where he was living when he was profiled by george zimmerman. martin was unarmed and not committing a crime. zimmerman observed him and assumed martin was a criminal. zimmerman felt martin did not belong in the gated community and called the police. he goes on to say that zimmerman said martin was acting suspiciously. the affidavit says that zimmerman did not use a racial slur. it revealed that investigators have talked to zimmerman's girlfriend and zimmerman started the conflict" it says that martin was going home, and he didn't want the person he falsely assumed would commit
acrime to get away. he got out of his vehicle and followed martin. zimmerman disregarded the police dispatcher and continued to follow martin who was returning home. zimmerman confronted martin and a struggle ensued. to help us braep break down this case, i'm joined my ken padowitz, and john burris, thanks to both of you for joining me tonight. ken, let me start with you, is this the road map the prosecution will use against zimmerman? >> absolutely, it's like the skeleton to the case that the prosecution is going to lay out before the jury. it definitely goes into the type of evidence they have, how they're going to prove the elements to the charge of second-degree murder, and how they're going to prove their case beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt to a jury. >> john, the prosecution must
prove for conviction, the victim is dead, two the death was caused by a criminal act by the defendant, and three the victim unlawfully killed by an act imminently dangerous to another, and demonstrating a depraved mind without regard for human life. that's what they have to prove in florida. if convicted, zimmerman will face 25 years to life in prison. if your opinion, and you have been a defense attorney, do you think they would have moved for murder two as opposed to manslaughter unless they felt they had evidence to back this up? >> you would think they would have, but i don't necessarily think they really believe totally they can get a second-degree murder conviction. i say that because there there. >> beth: be this whole question of the initial stand your ground.
that's going out. they're not going to be able to win that at all. but when you get down to a fight, regardless of who -- >> you mean zimmerman will not be able to prove stand your ground? >> no, she not going to be able to prove that because he is the aggressor and the pursuer. when you are in a fight, no matter who started it, if gentleman basically believes his life is in danger, even though it's unreasonable, and he shoots and kills trayvon, that's still murder and that's a manslaughter case. and so on the other hand, if he is in a position to leave, he is on top, he leaves, and he could have left and he didn't leave, and he shoots and kills him when his life is not in danger, that is deprived state of mind. >> so a lot of that will depend on the evidence we don't know they have. ken, there is a lot of evidence, clearly, that we don't have.
and we don't have the video of zimmerman's police video. we don't have the full police report, the autopsy results, the gun ballistics, we don't have zimmerman's clothing to see whether there is blood splatter. there is a lot of things we don't have, and there was an agreement to not release certain things at this point. >> there was. but this is a brilliant legal move by the prosecution team. they had to have sufficient evidence that they believed in good faith they can come back to a jury and get a conviction for second-degree murder, but it was a brilliant strategy if they had that evidence, and i believe they would not have gone forward as they had if they had concluded they don't have that evidence. the higher the charge, the higher up on that pyramid, the more evidence that is required in order to prove the elements of the charge. for second-degree murder you
went through the element that's have to be proven by the state of florida, and the state feel that's by going before a jury with a second-degree murder charge, they're giving them an option to come back as guilty as charged, or to compromise their verdict and come back with a manslaughter conviction which i'm assuming the prosecution would look at as a win as well. >> so they can by going for the higher charge, they probably feel they have the evidence, but they also feel in a compromised verdict, they could get at least manslaughter a a jury can do that? >> absolutely. >> john, let me ask you this. the avid released today uses strong language. it says -- this is the prosecutor, says that march tip was profiled. he was profiled by george
zimmerman, assumed martin was a criminal, and that grm felt martin did not belong in the gated community. however, the confidence makes sure to note that zimmerman did not use a racial word when talking about him, stating that the a-holes get away and he also said these punks. but that is not the racial term that some thought they heard. but it doesn't help with the state case because it doesn't sound aggressive, talking about a guy that has to defend himself against. >> i don't think -- i think that the racial component goes out from the federal civil rights, but from a state point of view, you have a mind of a person that was profiling this person,
making decisions about him, based on a notion about a african-american male. he was saying he didn't belong here. that all goes to his state of min that is consistent with him being the aggressor, and i think this is the part that knocks out the stand your ground defense, so these background and statements i think are pretty strong evidence that the prosecution is saying this is not a stand your ground defense here giving all of the things he was saying and doing at the time that clearly suggest that he was the one that was trying to find out about this kid and the kid wasn't trying to do anything to him. >> this strikes me as a very strong statement. here you're dealing now with a hard-nosed prosecutor, who by all accounts is very hard on criminals, very propolice, a republican, and she used the
term in the affidavit profile. that's a strong term didn't it? >> it is and that's exactly what evidence shows. we all heard the 911 tape. we have an amazing piece of evidence, a window into the mind of mr. zimmerman. when he used the term "they." he is saying that when he profiles the individual. we don't know if it's young people, people that wear hoodies, or the fact that he is black. but he is profiling this person, stalking him and going after him. he is the aggressor. the law is clear that you can't claim self defense when you are in fact the aggressor. and the evidence shows that mr. zimmerman is the aggressor in this situation. >> so it could be racial, his dress, any number of things, but the fact that his profiling does
take away from a self defense or stand your ground defense here is your point? >> i think that's true, because he has a -- it goes to his state of mind. when he used the term "they." that means he has a stereotype notion about a class of people, whether it's young, african-americans, he made a determination that "they" do bad things and he will do the aggressor here. so i think that you have all of this sift here that certainly suggest that's this is a guy that the prosecution can clearly say he was the one that was the aggressor, and there's a lot of evidence to important that and that tape as short as it may be. >> when you combine that, as well, with the fact that he was the aggressor in terms of making these strong statements, would
the fact that the dispatcher, according to the saffidavit and the 911 tape, being told not to follow him and he did anyway, it begins to line up why the prosecutor feels they have a strong case, and we don't know some of the evidence that has not been released yet. >> remember the third element to second-degree murder is act dangerous to another with a depraved mind. clearly the mind of mr. zimmerman is showing that he has ill will, he is showing a depraved mind, and that's the third element to the three elements of second-degree murder. >> i want to talk to you about the controversial stand your ground law, but coming up, the case against george zimmerman rests in the anhands of angela
corey. what's her record. george zimmerman walked into court today, but stand your ground could set him free. and remembering the victim, why we can all relate to trayvon and why the country can never forget. americans are always ready to work hard for a better future. since ameriprise financial was founded back in 1894, they've been committed to putting clients first. helping generations through tough times. good times. never taking a bailout. there when you need them. helping millions of americans over the centuries. the strength of a global financial leader. the heart of a one-to-one relationship. together for your future. ♪
welcome back to "politicsnation," joining me now is mayor of sanford, florida, jeff triplet. thank you for joining us. >> thanks for having me. >> what's the reaction now that george zimmerman has been arrested? >> i think everybody took a deep breath, exhaled, and now it's in the prosecutor's hands. it's one piece of the puzzle off the city of sanford, and it's in jacksonville with a very competent attorney. >> now that competent attorney released today the affidavit of probably cause. and there was frankly nothing in that affidavit that the police did not know in sanford. are you disappointed that the chief in sanford said he didn't
have evidence for probably cae e cause, and she is using what they nude as the basis for her arrest? >> i find it very interesting and had a couple meetings today. we called for a review of the process, what transpired that night, i know they walk hand in hand with the state's attorney, so i look forward two hearing from the investigation in the review of what truly transpired. >> it's interesting. and you fought to have the 911 tapes released, and there was some push back. do you think someone was trying to hide something? >> i don't know the answer to that. i was just trying to do what was right. i still think it was right, and mrs. corey said a few words that there have been leaks about this, and you know it's in her hands now, let her do what she
needs to do with her team, and we have a lot of work to do in the city of sanford to start the healing process. we have a lot of good men and women in the sanford police department that have suffered a little bit of this also, and we called for full investigations and a review and that's all i can say now. we're in between on having those done, but i guarantee we can take corrective actions if it comes in that we did something. >> i thank you for that and for those 911 tapes. i agree with you there, and i think you're right we need a healing process and justice to get it. thank you. >> now we will take a closer look at state attorney angela corey, the woman that made a strong decision entirely on her own in the most high profile criminal case in the country. she reportedly decided on second-degree murder murder charges last week and spent the days sense making sure that
everything was in place for her announcement. she sees confidence in her case, and her record shows why. in her first 18 months at state attorney, angela corey won 90% of felony cases she faced, and cases that went to jury, she won 83%. well above average. if you're being prosecuted by her, you need to be scared and you need to get the best defensive lawyer you can find. joining me now from gainesville, florida, is theresa sopa, a criminal defense attorney who has known angela corey and faced off against her in court for the last 30 years. thank you for joining me tonight. was that news conference last night classic angela corey that we were watch something. >> i thought the news conference
was very well done. i thought she did a very good job. she made her points very effectively. i think that she overlooked one of the facts about the stand your ground law that we can talk about later, but i thought she m marshalled her staff and she did a great job. >> now, as one that has faced off with her and known her, do you think she would have come with this kind of charge if she was not confidence she had the evidence to back it up? >> i don't think she would, she's a very competent attorney. she knows how to prove a case and understands what's required of her in court. she's well aware of the facts necessary to sustain a conviction. she has signed the information -- or her assistant
signed the information stating they do have a good faith belief that can bereave these charges beyond and to the exclusion beyond a reasonable doubt. we don't really need the confidence in first appearance once a state attorney has filed that information. she's very confidence and she can generally prove what she sets out to prove. >> and she is pretty tough. when running for state attorney in 2008, she joked she would be willing to put her own mother in jail -- >> she is very law and order. she's always been very anti-gun crimes and very provictim. what we heard last night is nothing new from ms. corey. she's always been devoted to victims of crime. people know her for that, that's her reputation in northeast florida, and she has long been an advocate for mandatory
sentences for those involved in crimes with firearms. >> she's known for being close to victims and families because she said helping victims was her favorite part of the job. without a doubt, the most rewarding part is helping victims get through the system, i can't always give them what they want, the maximum sentence or full monetary restitution, but can can make sure their constitutional rights are safeguarded. that's her talking about herself ten years ago. that's right, the victim's in florida have the right to be a participant in the process, and ms. corey is a very vocal proponent of that right and she has an attach tomt her viment ts
and she puts her all into it and is usually very successful when she sets out with a case. >> she also seems to be very moral, religious, like she said last night, and the family told me, the first thing she did after meeting the family was pray. >> the first thing we did was pray with them, we opened the meeting in prayer, we did not promise them anything. in fact, we specifically talked about if criminal charges do not come out of this, what can we help you do to make sure your son's death is not in vain. and they were very kind and very receptive to that. >> you were getting ready to say -- >> i'm sure you know, it's the south, and religion and politics often election and religion and the court system often mix. i believe that ms. corey is very
sincere. she's very active in her church. i don't doubt her sincerity in that guard. >> i am not from the south, but i have prayed in court. thank you for your time tonight. >> thank you for having me. >> ahead, it's called the stand your ground law, and george zimmerman's faith may come down to the stand your ground law. we look at the controversial history in the state of florida, and remembering the victim, 46 days later, his killer is in jail. everyone in america depends on the postal service.
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right now george zimmerman waits in a florida jail, but he could be set free even without a trial. his lawyer will likely ask a judge to throw out the case based on stand your ground, we'll look at that law, next. the first technology of its kind... mom and dad, i have great news. is now providing answers families need. siemens. answers.
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angela corey promises to fight the stand your ground law. it says that you can use deadly force if you feel your life is being threatened. they said last night that stand your ground would likely be part of their defense. >> right now it's the law of florida, and the law that will have impact on this case. >> since the law went into effect in florida seven years ago, it's been very controversial. the tampa bay times has found 130 cases since 2005. 10 cases pleasest guilty. that's a 14.6% guilty rate for those that used stand your ground as a defense.
not high at all, but for george zimmerman, will his defense hold up in a court of law. joining me now is ben montgomery who reported the stand your ground numbers we just showed you. and back with us, ken padowitz who has defended people under stand your ground in florida, and john burris. ken, can you help us understand the stand your ground law, and will it stand in this case? >> absolutely. basically, you're always entitled to an affirmative defense at trial. they came in in sixth and created a statute that is an immovety statute. the charges have to be dismissed by a judge. if there is a hearing, a motion
filed by the defense asking that it be applied, and there is a hearing, a mini trial conducted in front of a judge, no jury, and the defense has to go forward and present evidence and testimony, and there is cross-examination, direct examination, and then the prosecution presents evidence. so there is a mini trial. if immunity is granted, the charges are dismissed. >> john, given what you know about the evidence, because again we don't know what we don't know, of course, is it likely that a judge would feel that he could throw this out? >> no, i don't think it's likely that he could throw it out because of the initial confrontation, or the initial following of trayvon by mr.
zimmerman. he was the aggressor, he left a position of safety, not only in his car, but he was traveling. once you leave the position of safety, i think you do not get that level of immunity after that. you can have another self defense argument at trial, but what's important to keep in mind is when you have this mini trial, this is a presumption, a lower standard, not proof beyond a reasonable doubt. they get preponderance of evidence which is more likely true than not. i think the initial portion is that this particular person was the aggressor, and it has to be reasonable. it's not complete immunity. it has to be not only a fear, but it has to be reasonable. i think the judge will make that decision on the ground that's it was not reasonable for the
person to leave or place himself in a position of confrontation, and he was the aggressor, so he doesn't get particular defense before the trial starts. >> bn, you studied these cases, and you came up with the numbers. have you and your studies come across any cases that are similar to this? or if not, what are the kinds of cases that usually uses stand your ground so far in florida? >> yes, sir, we have. i found about a dozen cases with similarities to the trayvon martin case. and i beg to differ with the gentleman speaking earlier. in those cases where someone initiates a. pursuit, it's not rare for that person to be granted immunity in florida courts. what matters is not what happened five minutes before the
event, what matters is what happens about 60 seconds before the use of deadly force. it doesn't matter if someone chases someone, so hong as their not in the commission of a felony. if that persona initiated the pursuit and confrontation then has to use deadly force to defend him or herself and can convince the judge he was in great bodily harm and death, they can get granted immunity. >> how do you do that in this case if this young mand only had skittles, iced tea, was not involved in a crime, and a right to be there. >> that's what's so problematic. i think it's very, very unlikely for a judge to grant immunity to mr. zimmerman. hen he is the aggressor, there's a florida statute directly on point here that says if you're the aggressor and you initiate
the contact, you can't turn around and say immunity applies and i should receive immovety. the fact that it's been done before by courts, that doesn't necessarily mean that that was the law is followed properly, or that it will be applied by a judge in this particular case. i suggest that based on the evidence that we're talking about right now, that it's a very unlikely scenario for someone being the aggressor who is armed who provokes the confrontation, to turn around and claim the stand your ground law applies. i would suggest that trayvon martin would be able to use this had he been alive, that he could claim that he was being attacked and he was the right to defend himself under the stand your ground provisions. >> john, i see you nodding your head. >> yes, i agree. trayvon is the one that was being attacked and confronted. he had a right to defend
himself, and so to the extent the other guy had the gun unfortunately, that is the person that i think is the aggressor that can claim it, it should be trayvon that claims it. but that only goes stot issue of whether or not the judge would allow mr. zimmerman to claim it. i agree, i don't think that will happen. at the end of the day it's a reasonable standard as well. it's obviously up to this particular judge, but i don't think he has the facts to say an immunity should be here at this point. >> maybe that's the reason why in the affidavit for probably cause the prosecutor released today, they took page to establish that trayvon was there legally, going home to where he was living, and was not committing a crime. it looks like they want to clearly establish there was no reason that he was not there. so it will start with the frame
of mind, you say that it goes to the 60 seconds before the fatal shot, but with no witness there, he would have to convince a individual that what he saw was believable. he has no witness and the 911 tape doesn't help. >> that seems like a problem on occasion when this law is invoked fp asks the police, first, the prosecutor second, and then a judge and occasionally when they do go to jury, a jury. it asks them to consider something as nebulous as a man's mind. what was his frame of mind in the moment he used deadly force, and did he reasonably believe that he was in fear for his own life? let me raise one case, the case of garcia who was granted immunity about two weeks ago.
he was upstairs asleep, his roommate says someone was taking the stereo out of his truck, he runs down stair, the thief grabs the radios and taking off running down the street, garcia pursues him, catches up to him, the thief turns, swings the bag of radios at his head, he blocks the radio and stabs the thief in the chest. garcia sells the radios, doesn't tell the police he was in a crime, and he is granted immunity. >> you're dealing with people with weapons, dealing with a crime, i don't know if this is the same kind of case. this will be a big part of the case and we'll be talking more about it. thank you, gentlemen, for your time tonight.
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. from the beginning, those of us that supported trayvon martin's parents said this case was about one thing, justice. george zimmerman should have been arrested after killing trayvon, but he wasn't. he walked free. for weeks now people have mischaracterized the effort saying they are politicizing the issue and injecting race into the case. >> the trayvon martin situation caused happiness somewhere in the civil rights community because it gave them a shot in the arm. it launched them. it allowed them to get in gear and to start leveling the charges that they always love to make about the country. >> none of us were there, and i know people are trying to put this together, but i argue there's been a rush to judgment. >> is the media insighting racial violence. last night, watching a prime
time cable opinion program whip up the trayvon martin case to dangerous levels. >> a "wall street journal" column said trayvon's sad fate sent a quiver of perverse happiness across civil rights establishment. that's outrageous, of course all of these critics are missing the point all together. this case has always been about bringing attention to a case that somewhere, someone was trying to sweep under the rug. and we made that clear from the start. >> i did not come to florida after talking to sybrina and tracy to try zz i come to say
what is good for one is good for all. i will fight until we get justice in the courtroom. >> this is not anti-anybody. there are whiting, blacks, latinos, asians that are marched with us, stand with us, we are not running a hate campaign. this is a love campaign. >> joining me now is joan walsh, editor at large of salon.com. her latest article is about the importance of the activist movement in trayvon's case. thank you for joining me. joan, let me ask you a question. would george zimmerman be in jail today without the activist community in your opinion? >> in my opinion i don't think so, i don't see any evidence that would be the case. i went back last night, i apologize it's be lated, but i read the initial days of
coverage. i saw the way, until trayvon's parents got lawyers, spoke out, began asking questions, there was silence, and then bill lee, his first response was there is evidence, we have evidence that he acted in self-defense. he told the sanford herald reporter that if they arrested him it would have violated his civil rights. so he was worried more about the civil rights of george zimmerman than of trayvon martin. >> let me show you what he said on march 12th. >> right. >> mr. zimmerman has made the statement of self-defense. until we can establish probable cause to dispute that, we don't have the grounds to arrest him. >> so he clearly stated he was not going to arrest him contrary
to what some are saying now is that activist and people like me didn't give him a chance. he says he wasn't going to do it. >> right, he was acting like he was zimmerman's lawyer or pr person, rather than a law enforcement official seeking the truth and what happened. had he come out and said we're investigating and we're very concerned about this too, i think things would have unfolded very differently. it was a moment where it felt like this was being ignored, and an unarmed young black man had been shot, and no one seemed to care about it. so i think it was absolutely appropriate for people like yourself and others to get involved, and i was frankly shocked at the backlash and the people that suggested that the wheels of justice were turning and other people were kind of being vig lanties.
we just wanted the justice system to work. >> let me show you a new york post front headline. trayvon hoodwinged. tragedy hijacked by race hustlers. i'm not shocked, i have been in this all my life, you're going to be attacked, but what i think the public needs to know is in the case of many of us, we were called in by the family. i never heard of this case until they called and asked for us to be involved. so at least the public ought to know facts. it's fun any for me, joan, the article, why didn't i get involved in the case at imf, the rick case, now they're asking why i am involved. what i think you wrote was striking, is, and i'm quoting your article where you say i've been impressed by the fact that the movement to defend martin
mostly stayed away from demand for vengeance and punishment. people were demanding information about that apparently shody police procedures, and i think that's really the point here. there was no demands, there was no -- there was no violence. not one rock was thrown. >> none. >> so there is no irresponsible behavior here at all. >> no, and i have been attacked today on twitter by conservatives saying what you did was a lynch mob. so the hysteria on the right about this case, and the depiction of george zimmerman as the victim, it's really a tiresome narrative where a certain kind of right-wing white person acts like somehow whites are the victims in these situations. i was very impressed by the in fact that people were not acting as judge and jury. i can't speak for everyone and i didn't read every single statement that anybody made,
obviously, but the consistent demands from the family and from the spokes people were for answers and for investigation, and to get to the bottom of what happened that night. not for anything in particular, and certainly not for anything bad to happen to george zimmerman. >> not at all. i want to bring in kevin cuninghamm that starts the petition that went viral, it now has 2.2 million signatures. now did it help draw attention this case? >> i think that originally there was next to no main stream media coverage, only local coverage, and it was the petition as a starting point that gave us something to put out on facebook, twitter, as a focus point for that, and it didn't take long. i think that the facts of the case spoke to people very quickly, and kind of instantly
engaged them. we saw that despite some people who have been alienated, i think white people and black people all understand how long this was initially, and able to do -- it's not a lot to sign a petition online, it's easy to do. i think it's an emotionally healthy thing to do and gives people an opportunity to participate. >> and people responded all around the world, all races and nationalities were astounded there wasn't an arrest here. >> i remember seeing a stream from a blogger from lebanon when a muslim american retweeted the petition. so it's a human issue and it's trying to be broke down into a race issue, but we have a human tragedy. >> i think you're right, and joan and kevin thank you for your time tonight. >> thanks. wake up!
>>. 46 days ago, a young man went to the 7-11 for iced tea and skittles. he planned to bring them home to watch the nba game with his brother. trayvon martin never made it home, and that young man, who majored in cheerfulness was just gone. his life taken for no reason. from the beginning we simply sought justice for this life lost. since that night, the case has sparked all kinds of reactions. so emotional, some truthful, some cynical. angela corey made a point last night that really stuck with me. >> those of us in law enforcement are committed to justice for every race, every gender, every person of any persuasion whatsoever. they're our victims, we only know one category, and that's a
v, not b, w, or h, it's v for victim. >> through all of the distractions, we must not forget trayvon, and we must always remember the people that were hurt forever. his family who knew him best and loved him most. what would mom want to ask george zimmerman? >> i would ask him that i understand that his family is hurting, but think about our family. that loss, our teenager son, i mean it's just very difficult to live with day in and day out. i'm sure his parents can pick up the phone and call him, but we can't pick up the phone and call trayvon any more. >> no they can't, he was killed. and george zimmerman was given an instant acquittal. i believe in this country and i believe in justice, thanks for watching, i'm al sharpton, "hardball"